SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


By Sharon J. Wolfe


May 19, 2009
Tuesday PM

I am writing to voice my opinion on this matter because I feel I have to as a concerned citizen. I base my opinion on inside knowledge as a small community member, as well as observance of recent public meetings and information gained from many employees that I know.

KPU telephone has lost some really good workers that have really cared about KPU.They were hard workers that went above and beyond. There are others that have already applied elsewhere, due to the lack of job security over the lingering possibility of a sale. KPU has also found it hard to find good employees, recruit them and/ or relocate them. This again is greatly due, as well, to the potential sale.

Recently after a council meeting they were called a depleting asset. But the key point is it "IS" an ASSET, what other assets does the city have left? So, you sell your only asset burn through the money, and are stuck with only liabilities in the end. Doesn't sound good to me. Even if KPU Telephone breaks even, they should be left alone. We aren't selling or getting rid of divisions that only lose money.(Others would argue: Do you sell when the market is down?) Some of the depleting in the customer base is due to inadequate staffing, due to the potential of this sale looming for well over a year now. And because there is inadequate staff and several open positions, the employees that are on staff are extremely busy which does not allow time for training, etc. on new equipment.

There are 35 families who could be stimulating the economy more with large purchases.These are people wanting to buy houses, are held up on building a house , buying new boats, cars, etc,. Some of these families are fighting health issues, kids going to college etc,. and now are holding on to all their resources with the fear of losing their jobs. We are living with a poor economy already and the loss of 35 families, and the income that is filtered into our community is a pretty substantial ammount of money, not to mention the kids that will be gone from the school system, and families that, for the most part, have lived most of their lives here. For the past twenty years I have watched our small community lose the fishing and timber industries, become more and more dependant on the tourist industry, watched the entire heart of our wonderful little town change so drastically that it's unrecognizable. You have to go to Wal Mart to socialize. It's time to start thinking about holding on the whatever we have left.

There are positive steps that have happened.The Council and Management have recently gone forward and hired, paid for the relocation of a very gung ho, high powered and high energy marketing team. They went from one Marketing Manager and a Business Sales Specialist to 3 Marketing Managers with a very diversified and knowledgeable background.

Council has also hired two new much needed Engineering recruits that are willing to relocate.

Council has approved and spent a lot of money to move forward with implementing fiber to the home, this will be a very positive thing for the community and should be followed through.(If we sell this may not get finished )

We finally have an advisory board in place. This has been needed for many years. This is another tremendous plus for KPU. Maybe someday KPU will once again fall under a General Manager with the time to alot to all of the needs of the utility. This would be another good move.This is not to knock Karl Amylon in any way. He has made some great improvements. However, how thin can you stretch someone and still get the time needed to run something efficiently?

In closing: I think with all of these positive steps in place, the council should lift this cloud, let the employees feel secure in their jobs, get fully staffed and compete. Let's not add more to this poor economy it if we don't have to. There will be rates raised and a lot less customer support in the community if it is sold. Look at what Alaska Airlines has done with our rates, being the only show in town. Lift the cloud for the next couple of years, let the things you've put into place prosper and see if it blooms.

Sharon J. Wolfe
Ketchikan, AK

Received May 19, 2008 - Published May 19, 2009


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